New York Giants: Jayron Hosley

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First things first: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not 100 percent physically, but he has no intention of sitting out games.

"I'm healthy enough," the New York Giants cornerback said. "The way things are, I don't have much choice. I'm playing."

Rodgers-Cromartie
Rodgers-Cromartie is something close to the last man standing among the Giants' group of cornerbacks right now. They have suffered season-ending injuries to Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride, and Zack Bowman missed Thursday's practice while being treated in the hospital for an abdominal issue. Rodgers-Cromartie has been limited for more than a month with back and leg injuries, but he's not on injured reserve or in the hospital, and that is the current standard one must meet to play cornerback for the Giants right now.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Jayron Hosley would move from the nickel corner position to the outside position opposite Rodgers-Cromartie in the base defense if Bowman can't play Sunday in Seattle. When the team goes to nickel (assuming no Bowman), Hosley would play inside and Chandler Fenner would be the outside corner opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. On the bench are Mike Harris, who was signed last week from the Lions' practice squad, and Chykie Brown, who was claimed on waivers this week after the Ravens released him Tuesday.

Fewell said Hosley and Fenner would get the first crack because they've been with the team all year, but that they would work to get Harris and Brown up to speed as quickly as possible. He also said the coaching staff would have to simplify their coverage plans because of the rash of injuries.

"When you have new faces, you cannot and will not do as much as you've done in the past," Fewell said. "We'll have to simplify our package."

Fewell said verbal communication would be key for a secondary that hasn't played together very much -- that guys will have to make sure they're calling out and repeating calls rather than relying on each other's body language. No easy task, and the players know it. But they also know it's a fact of life.

"It's football. There's a 100 percent chance of injury when you play this game," Hosley said. "That's why you have to have depth on your depth chart, and the team has to have confidence in those guys to get it done. It's a big loss in terms of experience in the secondary, but at the same time, we know we have talent on our defense and in our secondary. It might take a little bit of time for guys to get confidence in playing new positions, but it will work out."
Injuries could force the New York Giants' defense to look a little bit different in the weeks that follow this week's bye. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins strained his right calf in Sunday's loss in Dallas. Middle linebacker Jon Beason might need surgery to repair the toe injury that's been limiting him since June. And injuries at cornerback could lead the Giants to bring back the three-safety look they used on their way to their most recent Super Bowl title three seasons ago.

"The game plan last week was to have Stevie Brown in the game with the three-safety package versus certain personnel groupings," safeties coach Dave Merritt said Tuesday. "That worked out for us, because Stevie went in and did his job and did what we asked him to do. The fact that we used to play the three-safety package a ton back in the day was because of the fact that we had three veterans who were able to play. I'm talking about Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. Right now, we feel like we've tested the waters and we have the same right now in our camp here."

[+] EnlargeStevie Brown
AP Photo/Seth WenigStevie Brown could see more playing time as the Giants adapt to injuries in their secondary.
The plan coming into this year was to play three cornerbacks most of the time. The team signed Walter Thurmond to play the nickel spot, but he suffered a season-ending injury in September, and Trumaine McBride, who took over, suffered his own season-ending injury in Week 6. So they are down to their third-string nickel cornerback, Jayron Hosley, and they don't seem comfortable leaning on him to the extent that they leaned on Thurmond or McBride.

Brown entered the season as a starting safety, but he lost his job in Week 4 after a poor start to the season and was replaced by Quintin Demps. Coaches have been pleased with the work Brown has put in since the demotion, and they believe there are situations in which it's better to have him, Demps and Rolle on the field at the same time than it is to have three cornerbacks. This arrangement could force Rolle into the nickel spot, a position he has said in the past he's willing to play but prefers not to, but Merritt said they are comfortable with Brown in there as well.

On the defensive line, Jenkins' absence for at least a few weeks leaves the Giants thin at defensive tackle. But they have had success playing defensive ends Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka at interior positions in pass-rush situations this season, and they might decide to do that more going forward to augment the defensive tackle rotation. Rookie defensive tackle Jay Bromley likely will be elevated to the active roster in Jenkins' absence, but there's also a chance second-year defensive end Damontre Moore could get more looks on the outside when Ayers and/or Kiwanuka move inside.

"Damontre needs to continue to improve and stay focused on what we're doing on first and second down," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said. "He can do it. He's a lighter body, not ideal, but he can play it. He has to stay focused and continue to improve in that area, and he will get more at-bats. He's going to get more opportunities on third down, so he just has to keep coming along and improve on first and second down. If he does that, then he's going to get those opportunities in pass-rush situations."

Moore has shown exciting ability in pass-rush situations and on special teams. But he has yet to earn the complete trust of the coaching staff as a player who can stop the run (and avoid jumping offsides).

No trust issues at linebacker, though. When Beason missed time early in the season, Jameel McClain filled in for him in the middle. At the time, rookie Devon Kennard was hurt, so Mark Herzlich replaced McClain on the strong side. This time, if Beason is out a while, Kennard could be the one who sees more playing time.

"Now that he's healthy, he's contributing on special teams, and last week was able to go in the game and do some good things," linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said of Kennard. "It was good to see him get out and get some game experience, because that is invaluable for a young linebacker. The other guys love him. He's got a great personality, and he wants to be great. I think we'll see some really good things out of him."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, casting significant doubt on his availability for Sunday's game against Dez Bryant and the Cowboys in Dallas.

Rodgers-Cromartie
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning that Rodgers-Cromartie would practice on a limited basis. But Rodgers-Cromartie did not practice at all Wednesday, and he was not on the field for the portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media.

Rodgers-Cromartie has been struggling for weeks with a leg problem that has been described at various times as an ankle, hip or hamstring injury, and he left Sunday night's game in Philadelphia with back problems. His official listing on Wednesday's injury report was "Did not practice (back/hamstring)."

If Rodgers-Cromartie can't play, Zack Bowman likely would take his place as a starting outside cornerback along with Prince Amukamara, who likely would draw Rodgers-Cromartie's usual assignment of covering the opposing team's top wide receiver. For the Cowboys, that means Bryant, who's one of the best and most physically dominating wide receivers in the game. Amukamara is having a strong season, but he does tend to look better when Rodgers-Cromartie is on the field.

The Giants also are down to their third option at nickel cornerback. With Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the season with injuries, Jayron Hosley will draw that assignment Sunday, though it's possible safety Antrel Rolle could play that spot as he has in the past. If that happened, the Giants might have to revive their old three-safety look, which could bring benched starter Stevie Brown back into the mix.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In 2012, Jayron Hosley was a New York Giants third-round draft pick who showed promise. In 2013, he was an injury headache. When 2014 dawned, he was on the roster bubble and facing a four-game drug suspension to start the year. Hosley's is not a career that has trended in the right direction.

But injuries constantly create opportunity in the NFL, and with nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the year, Hosley has ascended to the role of nickel corner for the Giants as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Hosley
Hosley
"I grew in that position, learned to play that position and I feel more comfortable there than I did my rookie year," Hosley said Wednesday. "So at this point, I feel more prepared. Just being able to see things and recognize things and not worry about what you're doing as much as what the offense is doing."

Hosley might not have made the team at all if not for the suspension, which allowed the Giants to delay a roster decision on him until such time as Thurmond was on injured reserve and they needed him to back up McBride. After McBride broke his thumb in Sunday night's loss to the Eagles, Hosley became even more important to the Giants, and he said he's fully ready to go in spite of missing those first four weeks.

"It was a long four weeks," Hosley said. "I worked out and I was in shape, but it's football, and you can't just show up and expect things to go your way. I'm in better football shape now."

The Giants are thin overall at cornerback. Starting outside corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came out of Sunday night's game with back spasms and missed practice Wednesday with continued back and hamstring issues. If Rodgers-Cromartie can't go, the Giants' nickel defense would feature Zack Bowman and Prince Amukamara in the outside corner spots with Hosley in the slot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A sudden rash of injuries has left Tom Coughlin and the rest of the New York Giants' coaching staff shuffling pieces around in advance of Sunday's key division matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Coughlin addressed a few of the issues in his Wednesday morning news conference:
  • Jennings
    As expected, running back Rashad Jennings will miss a second straight game with his knee injury. The Giants have a bye next week and play a "Monday Night Football" game in Week 9. Asked whether Jennings might be back for that game, Coughlin said, "I hope so. I can't tell you that for sure, but I would hope." Rookie Andre Williams is likely to start in Jennings' place again, but as you saw Sunday night, he shares the workload with Peyton Hillis, whom they trust more on passing downs.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to struggle with leg and back injuries. Coughlin said Rodgers-Cromartie would practice Wednesday, but added, "What can he do? You'd have to put it in the 'limited' category." Rodgers-Cromartie was not on the field for the portion of practice that was open to the media, which indicates he may not have practiced after all. Zack Bowman would fill in for Rodgers-Cromartie if he can't play Sunday.
  • With Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride now both out for the season, Jayron Hosley will be the nickel cornerback. It's an opportunity for the 2012 third-round pick, who missed the first four games of this season on a drug suspension, to prove he belongs in the league after a disappointing first couple of years.
  • Coughlin said Preston Parker, who filled in as the slot wide receiver when Victor Cruz went down Sunday night, will get an opportunity with Cruz and backup slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan out for the year. But Coughlin also said there might be some game-planning adjustments to account for the relative abilities of the players they have left at wide receiver. Rookie Corey Washington could conceivably see more looks, and Coughlin said he hoped newly signed Kevin Ogletree would be able to help this weekend.
  • Cruz made a brief visit to the team facility Wednesday morning, but he did not stop to talk to reporters and the team was on the practice field while he was here. Cruz had surgery Monday to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

More to come after practice and Wednesday's open locker room session.

Big Blue Morning: Hosley's back

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
8:00
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New York Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley missed the first four games of this season on a drug suspension, and the team got a one-week roster exemption that allowed it to carry him through Week 5. But that window closed Monday, and the Giants did indeed add Hosley to their 53-man roster.

Hosley
Hosley
To make room on the roster for Hosley, the Giants waived cornerback Chandler Fenner, who'd just been added from the practice squad this past weekend. They also waived wide receiver Julian Talley and promoted running back Michael Cox from the practice squad.

Why make room for Hosley as opposed to just letting him go? It's a fair question, but there are a couple of potential answers to it. First of all, Hosley was the Giants' third-round pick in 2012, and the Giants generally take a very long time before giving up on their draft picks. Second, Hosley plays special teams, so he serves a purpose even if he doesn't get in on defense. And third, if Hosley does have a strength as a defender, it's as a nickel cornerback. The Giants are thin there with Walter Thurmond on injured reserve and Trumaine McBride filling in for him. If McBride got hurt -- or if another starting corner got hurt and McBride had to move outside -- Hosley would be a good fit in the nickel position.

As for the other move, the Giants had to promote Cox because they're thin at running back due to the injury to starter Rashad Jennings. Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis were the only two healthy running backs on the roster before Cox's promotion. He'll sit third on the depth chart as Williams will get the bulk of the carries and Hillis fills in on some passing downs.

Giants injury report (non-Beckham edition)

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
5:10
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kieran Darcy has your New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. update here. My take on this is that he's practicing, which is progress, but that I wouldn't assume he's a go for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons just yet. It's telling that Tom Coughlin said Beckham doesn't have to be a factor in the punt return game in order to get on the field, and that indicates we might see him in a limited role at wide receiver this week or next. But he clearly has more to show the coaches and trainers between now and Sunday.

As for the rest of the team...

Beason
Middle linebacker Jon Beason, who has missed the past two games with a foot injury, did practice some with the team during Monday's short practice. Beason has made decent progress from the injury, which was an aggravation of the injury that cost him all of training camp and, as of a couple of weeks ago, felt like it could be season-ending. But he's not giving up yet, and it's possible he could return to face the Falcons. The Giants are 2-0 without him, so Jameel McClain has filled in well at middle linebacker.

Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who's missed three games in a row with a hamstring injury, ran on a side field and is making progress. As with Beckham and Beason, we'll know more about Kennard when we see who does and doesn't practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Rodgers-Cromartie
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who suffered a thigh injury in Thursday's victory in Washington, warmed up with the team and seemed to be going through some practice drills, but my guess is he'll be listed as limited Wednesday. Not a major concern as of now for Sunday's game with Rodgers-Cromartie, but he bears watching.

And it's not an injury, but cornerback Jayron Hosley returned to practice Monday. Hosley missed the first four games of the season on a drug suspension. The team got a one-game roster exemption for Hosley, so they don't have to decide what to do with him until next Monday. It's possible he could be released. Hosley was a third-round pick in 2012 who showed some promise as a nickel corner as a rookie, but he's had a lot of injuries and now the suspension, and Trumaine McBride is obviously ahead of him on the depth chart. They'd have to cut a linebacker or a wide receiver, most likely, to make room for Hosley.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's foolish to read anything into preseason results or even stats, for that matter. But there are aspects of these games that can ring alarm bells. For the New York Giants so far this preseason, penalties have been a major issue.

The Giants were called for 10 penalties for a total of 109 yards in Saturday's exhibition victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That brings their two-game preseason total to 16 penalties for 158 yards.

Of those 16 flags, eight have been thrown downfield in the secondary, where the Giants were hit Saturday night with two defensive holding penalties, two pass interference penalties on Jayron Hosley and an illegal contact penalty on Prince Amukamara that was declined. With officials emphasizing downfield contact this year, it's clear the Giants' defensive backs are going to have to alter something about the way they're playing.

"There's no contact allowed at all," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "You bump into each other shoulder to shoulder, and it's going to be a penalty. We've got to do a better job of coaching it. There are a couple of situations I think the officials are going to have to get sorted out as well, but it's something we're going to have to address."

Earlier in the week, Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said the coaches were spending time reviewing practice tape with the defensive backs and addressing plays that are going to be called as penalties this year that may not have been in the past. Amukamara said the officials have told the players "there's not going to be a 'healthy five,'" anymore -- meaning that officials will strictly enforce the prohibition against contact more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, as opposed to letting things go at maybe six or seven as they have in the past.

Now, to Coughlin's point about the officials, it's preseason for them too. And NFL games are increasingly difficult to officiate in real time. When new rules and points of emphasis are installed each year, the preseason is the time for the officials to figure out how to enforce and administrate them. Just because so many of these calls are getting made around the league in these preseason games doesn't automatically mean you're going to see flags flying on every play come the season. But the Giants' defensive backs are playing an aggressive style, and this year it's one that might get them in more trouble than it used to.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants right guard Brandon Mosley pulled left and helped center J.D. Walton open up what Rashad Jennings would later call a "gaping hole." Jennings ran through it and all the way to the end zone, 73 yards for a touchdown on the Giants' second possession of Saturday night's 20-16 exhibition victory over the Steelers.

It was a beautifully designed and executed play. It was all the Giants' first-team offense did well.

Eli Manning was on the field for 12 snaps and threw two passes, completing neither. The Giants' new offense remains a work in progress with 30 days to go until their "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit.

Some other thoughts on the Giants' second preseason game:
  • You want to know who's leading the race for starting tight end? The Giants ran 26 offensive plays in the first half, and Larry Donnell was on the field for 25 of them. The only other tight end who even played in the first half was Kellen Davis, who was in on four plays, all of which also included Donnell. I think the Giants would like to be able to give Daniel Fells a longer look, but he is injured and did not play. Adrien Robinson is doing nothing in practice to help himself.
  • Rookie defensive tackle Jay Bromley, the team's third-round pick, looked good in the second half against the Steelers' backup line, getting into the backfield to snuff out a run play and putting pressure on the quarterback.
  • Cornerback Charles James muffed a punt in the third quarter -- not the kind of thing that's going to help the feisty return man make a team that has this many good cornerbacks. Preston Parker replaced him on the next punt return.
  • The "NASCAR" package of four pass-rushers on third downs featured Cullen Jenkins and Robert Ayers at defensive tackle, with Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul at end when the first team was in the game.
  • The Giants were flagged for 10 penalties for a total of 109 yards. Of those, two were Jayron Hosley pass-interference penalties of 12 and 47 yards. Zack Bowman was called for illegal contact and Mark Herzlich was called for defensive holding (though he wasn't on the field that play, so it's unclear which Giants defender was flagged). Bennett Jackson received a five-yard holding call. And Prince Amukamara was whistled for an illegal-contact penalty that was declined. Giants defensive backs continue to struggle with the new rules/points of emphasis governing illegal downfield contact.
  • Amukamara made a great play to run down speedy Pittsburgh rookie Dri Archer on a 46-yard screen pass that looked to be a sure touchdown. It's the second time in two games Amukamara has shown the speed to keep up with a touted rookie, as he covered Buffalo's Sammy Watkins well Sunday night.
  • Jerrel Jernigan struggled badly with the first-team offense, and the Giants are eager for rookie Odell Beckham Jr. to get healthy and take over that spot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The first preseason game of the year is a test for everyone and everything it involves, including changes to the NFL's rules and officiating guidelines. This year, two of the officials "points of emphasis" will involve downfield contact by defensive backs against wide receivers. Four different New York Giants cornerbacks were called for penalties in Sunday's game, and that's absolutely a point the coaches are stressing in meetings this week.

"We've just got to continue to compete downfield and know what they're going to call," Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said Tuesday. "We've just got to be a little less aggressive with our hands downfield. You want to hand-fight the guys and not let them push us off, but we have to realize what the rules are and the emphasis this year, especially the tugs on the jersey. We've got to eliminate that from our play."

In their visits to training camps this year, NFL officials are speaking to players (and the media -- thanks, guys!) about the new rules and points of emphasis. The two that pertain in this case are as follows:
  • The prohibition against grabbing of receivers by defensive backs, including grabbing the jersey, will be enforced more strictly, including within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
  • The rule prohibiting a defender from initiating contact with a wide receiver more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage will be enforced more strictly.

"They told us there's not going to be a 'healthy five,'" Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "And a 'healthy five' is when, maybe at six [yards from the line of scrimmage] they would have let you get away with it. But now it's going to be a straight five. So we knew they were going to be strict and very adamant and direct and setting the standard that way. So I guess we are going to have to evolve with them. But our coaches still want us to be aggressive."

Giunta said Giants coaches have been evaluating practice tape and showing their defensive backs plays that would have been called penalties in games. The tape from Sunday night is easier. Amukamara was flagged for a five-yard illegal contact call one play before Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was flagged for defensive holding. Later, Zack Bowman was hit with a 14-yard pass interference penalty and Jayron Hosley was called for holding. So everybody seems to have something to work on with regard to this.

"You've just got to correct them in practice and get them to develop their habits in practice, keeping their hands off the receiver after five yards and just get a feel for what the five yards is," Giunta said. "It's hard. And you've got to get a feel for the officiating crew, too, because some of the guys will let you go six or seven and other guys will give you a strict five. They're trying to make it more of a strict five this year."
Cornerback is the deepest and most crowded position group on the New York Giants' roster heading into training camp, and it's going to force some difficult decisions when it comes time to make roster cuts in late August. Conor Orr of NJ.com has broken it down like this:
Based on what we've seen in camp, if we had to rank the position based on how much playing time they'll get, this is what we came up with:

1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
2. Prince Amukamara
3. Walter Thurmond
4. Zack Bowman
5. Trumaine McBride
6. Charles James
7. Jayron Hosley
8. Bennett Jackson
9. Ross Weaver
10. Travis Howard

But obviously, you don't keep 10 players. The Giants finished with five cornerbacks on the active roster and two on injured reserve last year. It's safe to say at least three, but probably four of these players won't make it out of camp, especially with the need to carry four at the safety spot.

I can't quibble too much with Orr's rankings. I might put McBride ahead of Bowman based on the way he played last year, and Hosley would surely be ahead of James if Hosley weren't suspended for the first four games of the season. But that suspension makes Hosley, who was likely on the roster bubble to begin with, a tough call. Jackson is a draft pick they'd surely like to keep if possible, and he and James have shown an ability to contribute on kick coverage teams, as has Bowman.

My guess is the top five on Orr's list are safe, but that there's likely only room for one more guy, either James or Jackson until Hosley comes back. And when Hosley does come back from suspension, there's likely to be a tough choice between him and whoever made it between James and Jackson.

There's always a possibility that an injury opens up a spot, but if everyone stays healthy, the Giants are going to end up cutting a couple of players of whom they think very highly here.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but...

Hosley
Hosley
If your third-round pick misses four games in his first year because of injury and misses five games in his second year because of injury, and prior to his third year you feel compelled to sign four free agents who play his position, and then he gets suspended for the first four games of that third year for drugs ... Well, you've not made a good third-round pick.

The New York Giants thought they had a potential steal when they took cornerback Jayron Hosley with the 94th pick of the 2012 draft. And the way he played as a slot cornerback for them early in that season backed them up. He had slid in the draft following reports that he tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine. The Giants, coming off their second Super Bowl title in five years, felt they could take the chance on Hosley in the third round -- even after taking one on David Wilson in the first and another on Rueben Randle in the second and right before taking project tight end Adrien Robinson in the fourth.

Hey, you lose some, you lose some.

Hosley wasn't exactly banging his head against the top of the Giants' depth chart at cornerback this offseason. Not after the Giants signed free-agent cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Trumaine McBride and Zack Bowman. Heck, they even drafted a cornerback, Notre Dame's Bennett Jackson, in the sixth round. Now, following the news that he will miss the first four games of the season while suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Hosley's road to the final roster is tough to see. He's eligible to participate in all offseason practices and preseason games, but man, he's going to have to really dazzle this coaching staff to convince them to keep him around for another 12-game season.

It also bears mentioning that Hosley is the second member of the Giants' secondary to be suspended for substance abuse in the past week, which is a pretty bad pace. Safety Will Hill was waived Monday after receiving his third drug suspension in as many years, and it can't please the people who run the Giants that much of the offseason news of the past week has been about their defensive backs and drugs.

Anyway, OTAs are open to media today, though it appears the practice will be indoors because of weather. I'll be there, of course, and asking questions. Catch up with you a little bit later on.

Giants' last five drafts: 2012

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
2:30
PM ET
The NFL draft is three weeks from today, which still gives us plenty of time to talk about what the New York Giants will do with the No. 12 pick and the importance of having their first really good draft in a really long time. But as we ponder all of that, this week we are taking some time to look at the last five Giants' drafts, and today's stop is on 2012, when they were defending Super Bowl champions and did something they hadn't done in more than a decade. They took a running back in the first round.

The Picks

First round (32 overall): David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

Second round (63): Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

Third round (94): Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

Fourth round (127): Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati

Fourth round (131): Brandon Mosley, T, Auburn

Sixth round (201): Matt McCants, T, UAB

Seventh round (239): Markus Kuhn, DT, North Carolina State

Still with Giants: Wilson, Randle, Hosley, Robinson, Mosley, Kuhn

Still in NFL: McCants (Raiders)

Games played for Giants

Wilson: 21

Randle: 32

Hosley: 23

Robinson: 3

Mosley: 13

McCants: 0

Kuhn: 15

Review: Wilson was a revelation as a kick returner during his rookie year but a disappointment when handed the starting running back job in 2013. Two fumbles in the season opener got him benched, and once he was back in good graces, he injured his neck and missed the final 11 games of the season. Should he return healthy and develop into a star, that would help the long-term grade of this draft. But it also could get a boost from Randle, who has an opportunity to replace Hakeem Nicks as the team's playmaking deep threat at wide receiver. Hosley showed something as a nickel corner in 2012 but has had trouble staying healthy and now finds himself well down a stacked depth chart at cornerback. Robinson hasn't been able to get on the field, though they haven't given up on him yet and right now he's probably their projected starter. Mosley couldn't find his way onto the field in spite of massive problems at offensive line last year. They like Kuhn on special teams and think he can help as a rotational player at defensive tackle this year. It's too early to give a definitive grade to anyone's 2012 draft, but the Giants haven't had much immediate early return on this. The extent to which Wilson and Randle develop as offensive playmakers will determine whether this is remembered as a good draft or another in a series of busts. As with the three drafts we've already profiled this week, it doesn't appear as though they turned up anything of major value in the middle rounds.

Grade: C-minus (so far)
On paper, following their flurry of free-agent activity this week, the defensive backfield is the strength of the New York Giants' roster. We say "on paper," because it's March 19 and paper's all we have. The Giants don't play a real game for another five-plus months, which means all we can do is project what we think will happen based on the way everything looks from this far out.

So let's. Let's take a look at the Giants' new secondary, piece-by-piece, to get everybody fired up about how much better it has a chance to be in 2014. Assuming, of course, that they haven't improved it at the expense of the pass rush. Which they may have. But that's a different story for another time. This is about the secondary, whose members now include:

[+] EnlargeAntrel Rolle
AP Photo/Seth WenigIn 2014, Antrel Rolle should see more help in pass coverage given the Giants' additions at cornerback.
Antrel Rolle, safety: The lone remaining defensive captain, Rolle should be well served by the addition of all this cornerback depth. He's been asked to handle too much cornerback duty the past several years due to injuries and depth issues at that position. With everyone they now have at corner, Rolle should be able to stick to safety as he prefers. He's a leader on the Giants' defense, which is the main reason he was never a real candidate to be cut in spite of his whopping $9.25 million cap number. Ideally, he'll be able to switch off seamlessly between strong safety and free safety in the Giants' defensive scheme because his fellow starting safety will be able to handle either role.

Prince Amukamara, CB: I believe Amukamara is a good player. His technique is good, he's willing to mix it up physically, he can tackle, he's willing to help out against the run. Smart, studies hard, keeps himself in excellent shape... solid, all-around player. What I do not think he is is a star cornerback, a "shutdown" type who you can put on the other team's best receiver and expect him to take the guy out of the game. Not a knock, mind you -- there are very few guys like that. Just saying that I think the additions around him will help alleviate some of the pressure and responsibility Amukamara took on himself last year as the team's clear No. 1 corner.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB: He doesn't fit that "shutdown corner" description either, but his speed and athleticism enable Rodgers-Cromartie to make spectacular plays and sometimes even outrun his mistakes. The Giants should be able to split the field with him on one side and Amukamara on the other and feel very good about their chances in coverage. Depending on week-by-week matchups, they can isolate Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage as warranted without having to lean on him as a one-on-one difference-maker every week. He looks up to Rolle, his former Arizona Cardinals teammate, and should benefit from that relationship.

Stevie Brown, safety: When training camp 2013 opened, Brown was coming off an eight-interception breakout season and was talking about his development as a player. The hope was he would evolve into the kind of safety who could switch off with Rolle as Kenny Phillips used to do, and Brown and the team were confident he could. Brown tore his ACL in the 2013 preseason and hasn't played since, so his health will be a question mark going into the year. But if he is healthy, he will get a chance to win back that starting safety spot and show off his ballhawking skills again.

Will Hill, safety: He emerged as the starter opposite Rolle as the 2013 season went on after missing the first four games on a drug suspension. Rolle made the Pro Bowl, but I believed Hill was the better player at times in 2013, which is more a compliment to Hill than it is an insult of Rolle's play. The questions with Hill are of off-field issues, but if he's got his life in order away from the football field, he's a force on it. If Hill stays out of trouble and Brown stays healthy, the Giants have enviable safety depth.

Walter Thurmond, CB: He was one of the cornerbacks called upon to fill a larger role in Seattle last year following the drug suspension of Brandon Browner, and it's generally believed the Seahawks' cornerback play improved. Thurmond is an elite-level talent as a slot cornerback, which is the role he'll likely fill with the Giants, but he's also capable of handling himself on the outside should one of the starters get injured.

Trumaine McBride, CB: The Giants were impressed enough with his 2013 work as an injury-replacement starter that they signed him back on a two-year contract. Undersized but extremely determined, McBride showed an ability to handle himself on the outside and can play the slot as well. He'll function as a reliable backup.

Cooper Taylor, safety: Late-round 2013 draft pick is already a helper on special teams, and with all of the veteran safeties they have in front of him, he can take his time developing as a defensive player.

Jayron Hosley, CB: The Giants' 2012 third-rounder has been slow to develop due to health issues. The Giants liked him as a slot corner option when they picked him, but he's got to show a lot to stay in the long-range plans at this point.

Quintin Demps, safety: Signed primarily as a kick returner, he's a last-resort option if injuries dictate that he fill in at safety. He did start six games there for Kansas City in 2013.

Charles James, CB: Saw some work in the return game last preseason, but they have other guys for that now. James has some value as a special teams player but will have to fight his way up the depth chart.
The New York Giants have reached an agreement with cornerback Trumaine McBride on a two-year, $3.1 million deal, per ESPN and media reports.

McBride
It's a nice re-signing for the Giants. After a year out of the league in 2012, McBride joined the Giants in 2013 and found himself a starting cornerback following injuries to Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, and he played much better than expected. He was likely to draw interest from other teams had he hit the open market at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, so if he's a guy the Giants liked, good for them for keeping that from happening. If nothing else, he's an insurance policy in case they get shut out in their pursuit of a top free-agent cornerback or can't find one early in the draft.

But signing McBride should not deter the Giants from those pursuits. They have expressed interest in several of the top cornerbacks on the market, and they would be much better off in the secondary if they could land someone like Alterraun Verner or Captain Munnerlyn or one of the many cornerbacks hitting the market Tuesday afternoon. That would enable them to use McBride as the nickel corner or as a reliable backup to their inside and outside starters. That's the ideal role for a guy like McBride. The Giants used him as a starter in 2013 and know they can do it again in a pinch, but their preference would be to get a premier guy who pushes McBride down the depth chart a bit, strengthening them overall at this important position.

It appears as though veteran Terrell Thomas, who served as the Giants' nickel corner in 2013, will hit the open market. 2012 third-round pick Jayron Hosley is still looked at as a guy who can play the nickel, but injuries have hampered his development.

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